Magnolia Pictures is a good home for David Gordon Green’s low-budget Sundance entry “Prince Avalanche,” a two-hander starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch shot in 16 days in Austin’s fire-ravaged Bastrop State Park. The distrib has acquired North American rights and is aiming at a summer release.
This rambling buddy comedy marks a return to the writer-director-producer’s indie roots and low-key personal style. The filmmaker, known for such mainstream comedies as “Pineapple Express” and “The Sitter,” had attended Sundance a decade ago with “All the Real Girls,” followed by “Snow Angels.” He wanted to set a film in Bastrop State Park using a stripped down crew like the one from his Clint Eastwood Chrysler commercial. A friend turned him on to the Icelandic film “Either Way,” and Green jumped off the idea of two men repainting traffic lanes along a remote highway.
Rudd and Hirsch bicker and banter and play off each other as Alvin and Lance, a hapless, bumbling odd couple camping in the hauntingly desolate landscape who drive each other crazy. Alvin runs across an older woman (Joyce Payne) sifting through the ashes of her demolished home; her husband, played by Lance Legault, worked with Green on a Dodge commercial. “He had a larger-than-life personality,” Green said at the Q &A. It turned out to be Legault’s last movie.
Of Magnolia’s acquisition, Green states, “‘Prince Avalanche’ was a strange joy to make and the reaction by audiences has been beautiful. The pleasure continues as we join with Magnolia to distribute the movie. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Writer-director David Gordon Green takes a break from studio projects to return to his indie roots in the exquisitely crafted existential odd-couple tale Prince Avalanche. Virtually a two-hander for Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch as a pair of Texas road maintenance workers, this slice of comedic melancholia suspends the two characters in an absurdist Beckettian limbo from which poignant moments of connection and self-discovery are hatched.
A sad little comedy about some sad little nobodies, Prince Avalanche boasts a genial, freewheeling spirit that has its charms but isn’t quite substantial enough to carry a whole feature. Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch are entertaining playing self-deluded fools working a dead-end job, but while this bittersweet film represents a return to the more heartfelt, personal terrain of writer-director David Gordon Green’s early career, Prince Avalanche ends up being sweet yet forgettable — just like its characters.
Insinuatingly low-key, minimalist Icelandic seriocomedy “Either Way” gets a slightly broader yet perhaps even more satisfying U.S. translation in “Prince Avalanche.” Despite the presence of A-listers Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch as ill-matched road workers toiling in a recently burned Central Texas forest area, David Gordon Green’s latest is closer to his poetical indie dramas than to his Hollywood efforts (“Pineapple Express,” let alone “Your Highness”). But both paths actually harmonize in a warmly enjoyable dual-character study whose mix of comedic and serious elements should get the good reviews needed to bolster middling commercial prospects.